Buying a car can be a major event, and one that can also be associated with a high level of stress if you’re not prepared. These tips can help empower you to be a smart car shopper and get a price you feel comfortable with.
Know before you go. Do online research and call around to local dealerships to get a better understanding of the car selection available to you, along with the going rates for a particular make and model. You can also look up the vehicle you’d like to purchase on Kelley Blue Book; just enter in a few details about the car and Kelley Blue Book will give you the fair market value so you will know the car’s value before making your purchase.
Time it right. If you can afford to wait, the best time to buy a new car is typically at the end of the year, when dealers are discounting vehicles to meet their annual sales goals and clearing their lot for new inventory. If you can’t afford to wait that long, hit the dealership at the end of the month. Dealers typically operate on a monthly cycle and will be getting ready to calculate their monthly sales. Can’t wait till the end of the month? Pop on over to the dealership when traffic and demand are likely low – like on a rainy, snowy, or cold day – and you’ll likely be able to negotiate a better deal than the car shopper who negotiates when the dealer is busy with other sales, suggests Auto Trader.
Don’t assume that dealership financing is the best deal. The salesperson will likely focus on the monthly payment because it gives them room to play with other variables (like the loan interest amount and length). Dealers typically receive a set fee or commission on the car loans they coordinate, so they could be interested in more than just selling you a car. If they start talking about how low they can make your monthly payment, beware. Tell the salesperson that you can talk financing later; first, you want to know their best price. Once they quote you a price that you’re happy with, then talk financing. Or, research financing through your personal bank.
Research all discounts. You may have seen advertisements for “cash-back” deals, and you’ll want to make sure incentives like these are factored into the car’s pricing. Some dealers will also offer discounts based on the individual purchasing the car, such as a college student, military service member, or even a member of a specific credit union. In addition, car manufacturers will offer dealerships cash incentives to sell certain cars that may be overstocked, which is an incentive you should ask the dealer to share with you by further discounting the price of the vehicle. Use a source like Kelley Blue Book or Edmunds.com to research the incentives being offered to dealers.
Remember, your best weapon is information. Know how much you’re willing to pay, the fair market price for the car, and your financing options before you set foot in the showroom and you could walk away with a better deal than the average car shopper.
What a pleasant surprise! Ask the car dealer or seller these questions to help make sure you’re an informed buyer and are getting the best deal.